The Young Australian Best Book Awards (YABBA) was established in 1985. A volunteer managed event, YABBA is about engaging young people in reading Australian literature and becoming discerning readers. Most significantly, YABBA is a forum for children's voices to be heard about the books they are currently enjoying.
Although not short listed this year, I was invited to the ceremony and it was a grand affair. There were over 300 children and more than 20 authors. The program was punchy and entertaining from the get-go, including drawing games, performances from the host school (Hailebury College) and a collective sing. The YABBA organisers had the children firmly in mind throughout.
The morning finished with the authors lined around the room at signing tables and this for me, was extraordinary. My book Lyrebird! A true story has enjoyed a few accolades (this is nice) but at the YABBAS I met my readers; one after the other came to my table and shared with me what the story meant to them, their sister, brother, mother, teacher ... Days later, I'm still moved by the words of these children. One student said (I paraphrase) 'I am so glad you are here. Lyrebird! is my favourite book ever and I wanted to meet the person who wrote it.'
Thank you to the YABBA organisers. I have returned to my desk, refreshed, inspired and validated.
BTW: the results of the bird vote are out. Australia's favourite bird is the Superb Fairy-wren. Over 8000 people voted.
(That should read KERIN with one R. Hey! Do I look I bothered?)